While in Hong Kong, we decided to visit the territory of Macau, situated 60 kilometres south west of Hong Kong.
A one hour ferry trip got us there with a very smooth and efficient ride.
Macau was a colony of Portugal from the sixteenth century until 1999. It is now governed by China as a Special Administrative Region - quasi-independent like Hong Kong.
The economy is largely dependent on tourism. The gambling industry has very a strong influence and there are numerous casinos of extravagant and unusual design located there. We mistook one of them for an ancient Chinese temple!
It is a very crowded city, apparently the most densely populated area in the world, I read somewhere.
That becomes apparent when you see the multiple high rise apartment buildings that sit so close to one another.
We wandered around the "old area" of the centre of town.
Throughout our travels we have been drawn to such areas - they all seem to offer the most in history, ambience and usually interesting little shops and restaurants.
We were certainly not disappointed.
A beautiful old square was surrounded by shops and restaurants and the old Portuguese churches and government buildings. Only a little walk away, there were the streets with the local markets and tiny little pocket-sized shops that sold uniquely Macanese food.
The streets and the public square were paved in white cobble-stones with black motif designs.
The food and the street signs reflected the Portuguese history - a favourite local food was beef or pork "jerky".
I was amazed to see so many Chinese-style apothecary shops that sold any number of dried animal parts and herbs etc. I recently read that there are no Western-style medical schools in Macau and trainee doctors have to go elsewhere for their education.
This may be the reason for the vast number of Chinese remedy shops on every street corner!
I found it a very interesting little place, and would certainly go there to stay for a few days if I ever went to Hong Kong again.
A passport is required to move between Macau and Hong Kong - indicative of their different origins, even though both are now regions of China.